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University Budget Battle Heats Up

February 14th, 2008 by flanews

A battle over how much tuition Universities can charge in the wake of pending budget cuts is brewing at the state capitol. In a meeting between the House Speaker and all 11 University presidents, there seems to be agreement that some tuition hike was needed to make cuts less severe. But as Mike Vasilinda tells us, one important voice is saying no.

Hear it here: University Budget Battle Heats Up

College students in Florida are already paying more. Tuition went up 55 dollars a semester in January. Even so, Florida is still 49th nationally in tuition. All 11 university presidents were called to the Capitol. They are facing a cut this spring and more cuts next fall. They paint a dire picture.

The cuts that we have here being discussed, plus the cuts that are coming could result in the loss of 2,500 faculty members for the state university system, said Florida International University President Mitch Maidique.

Caps on enrollment are becoming more likely. Even guaranteed transfers from community colleges may be in doubt. University Chancellor Mark Rosenberg said the answer is more money and flexibility to charge what the market will bear for some majors.

The net affect would enable us to hire the faculty and advisors, raise the graduation rates, said Rosenburg.

The schools stressed that they are part of Floridas economic engine. They promised to prove that every dollar produces results. The Governor has already said that he doesnt want a tuition hike this year. But he hasnt said hed veto it if it was sent to him.

Weve put together a budget from the Governors office that gives some increases at the universities without having to raise tuition, said governor Crist.

When asked if he was asked to signoff on a tuition hike, Crist added, If they sent it to me? I hope they dont.

So battle lines are being drawn. For those seeking a slot at a state university, it is likely to get harder before it gets easier. The universities said they need as much as 200 million more a year for the next five years to continue to improve the quality of a college education.

Presidents Taking On Budget Cuts

Floridas 11 University Presidents were in Tallahassee today to talk with state House leaders about how to improve higher education in a year when budgets are being cut. The Presidents said current plans could cost up to 25 hundred faculty jobs. As an alternative to cuts, the presidents said a mix of higher tuition and more state funding would help drive the economy.

University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft said she would like the USF board to have the same latitude to raise and lower tuition that it has for graduate students.

Well if you allow the boards to have some power with the tuition, just like they did with the graduate tuition, it gives us the opportunity to work with our constituent communities, and raise or lower tuition depending on the market place, said Genshaft.

FAMU President James Ammons told house leaders he has room for more students, but not in the popular pharmacy program. Ammons said now is the time to be adding seats in Pharmacy…not going the other way.

At the current time, were getting ten applications for ever seat. Were getting about 1500 qualified applications for a 150 seat class. This program needs to expand rather than contract, said Ammons.

University of Florida President Bernie Machen was positive after the meeting with house speaker Marco Rubio.

I think this is a real positive meeting. It doesnt solve the budget problems, it doesnt solve the shortage of money for new students for this year. But it means government wants to sit down with us, who are the people who have to make this work, and see if we can come out with a different way of doing business, said Machen.

Posted in Charlie Crist, Education, State Budget, State News | 2 Comments »

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